DIRTY LOOKS – California Free Ride

DIRTY LOOKS - California Free Ride
  • 8.5/10
    DIRTY LOOKS - California Free Ride - 8.5/10


Perris Records
Release date: October 2, 2008

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

This here release is major good and a flashy overdose of Hard Rock fuel to take you for a spin around town. Dirty Looks are rising up again with another release after their Superdeluxe, that was released early this year. California Free Ride continues the band’s effort to stay as dirty as they can.

Here is some ancient history. Dirty Looks was created by the Danish oriented, vocalist and guitar sleazer, Henrik Ostergaard, in Erie, Pennsylvania. After a while the band moved to San Francisco, California, and while replacing lineups, they released three albums (two of them are: Dirty Looks and In Your Face). Signing with Atlantic Records they released their classic 1988 album, Cool From The Wire, which showed their true nature of AC/DC Hard pumpin’ Rock with various elements of early American Glam Metal. Since 1988, the band released 8 more albums while changing three labels in the process, breaking up in 1992 and returning in 1994. This year, Henrik and crew, already demonstrated their consistency with their album Superdeluxe and now, near the end of 2008, they give the Metal world another dose of their Hard Rock music for it to inhale – California Free Ride.

You can say that the production of this album, in After 7 Studios, cannot be any better. The band retains its recording standards as to be expected from a veteran group of musicians. The sound quality is excellent and driving as was the same in the band’s previous releases, of course, there are the issues of new sound systems and better recording gear, which are much better quality wise, Dirty Looks sounds the same just like in 1988. So beware of the nostalgia cloud hanging over some tunes here and the perfect preservation of the 80s sound. Another aspect, which was pretty much the band’s regular thing back in the 80s and 90s, is the definitive sound of the drums. As a band that derives its influence mainly from AC/DC, the drums are an important factor and as a commanding instrument.

Dirty Looks, practically, continues their same work as always with the same tunes, rhythms, amazing solos and attacking attitude that never dies. In some aspects, the band’s consistency with their material is a positive approach that the diehard fans will surely like – you can add this reviewer to the same notion. These guys produce various awesome Hard Rockin’ riffs that will compete with AC/DC every day, everywhere. The solos by, Paul Liedel of Dangerous Toys, are breathtaking. However, while listening to this release as a comparison to their 1988 classic, Cool From The Wire, some things are a bit bothering.

The main thing is the riffs’ section. Although Dirty Looks produce great main riffs for their songs, it seems like they ran out of riffs to use for their new material or they just like to reuse the old riffs, which is not that good, and possibly, not that welcome by other Hard Rockers or Metalheads. Some will probably go against this notion by saying that AC/DC has done well these past 30+ years in the music industry almost without changing a thing in their riffs. That it is true, but Dirty Looks are not AC/DC and they are not attempting to be them, they just use the Aussies’ elements in creating a big portion of their music, they are not a copy band, they are exactly like the bands X-Sinner and Dirty Deeds, who are also AC/DC followers. Nevertheless, the reuse of the riffs can, somewhere in future, grow old.

Let’s take for example the song: “Burning Rain” , which is a great songs in all of its means , but it reminds very much of the song “It’s Not The Way To Rock” from Cool From The Wire. The second example is between two songs in the album itself, “Only Child” and “Under My Skin”, both have the same openings and a sort of main riff resemblance. In the long run , the band’s music is great without a dull moment but the implementation of some small changes can make their albums even better because although Dirty Looks is a big name in Hard Rock and even in Glam Metal they are still not AC/DC.

The themes that were written by Dirty Looks stays the same as their music with songs about people, life – in its wild form, girls, love and sex. The opening number, “California Free Ride” takes you on a drive, in the sunny state, in a fast car. “Look In A Mirror” , from what can be inferred from the lyrics is that dreams don’t have to always come true because they can be dangerous. “Strong Man” looks like a struggle between choices in life. “Come To My Party” tells a story with its title, getting together to have good time fun with smokes and booze like there is no tomorrow. “Shake” is a number about a stripper. “Brass Red” talks about the appeal for gambling.

The men behind the music have done well in this release like they did in their earlier ones. The most credited here are the vocalist / guitarist and lead guitar man. Ostergaard is a wild one like in all Dirty Looks’ releases. His vocal ability is very aggressive in this one in comparison to old times. His voice is much influenced from Bon Scott yet he takes it to the next level and that is the reason he still sounds like a teenage brat – which is good thing. This case is very similar in Glam Metal vocalists. His guitar playing is great, it is unknown of his participation in the solo area, but the riffs come out good from him. The lead guitarist, Paul Liedel, whose work is well known with Dangerous Toys, is doing  a mayhem job on the solos all around. It is unknown in which sections he is performing his great skill, so no songs were mentioned.

California Free Ride is like it says, a free ride through another good Dirty Looks release. This one is not a mind blower but still holds tight a good album. “California Free Ride” is an exciting beginner from the whistle blows to a slow tempo catchy killer. “Look In The Mirror” is more of a Glam Metal track with much heavier riffs than in previous releases; even the chorus in a Glam oriented one. “Burning Rain” is the best out there with an awesome reminder of the band’s era in the 80s and it’s the only song where Ostergaard is not attacking in his vocals. “Only Child” , “Shake” and “Brass Red” are AC/DC oriented tracks with great all around riffs and major time solos. “Strong Man” is a runner up for the best song with attacking and screaming vocals and solos that will not let you go, also let’s not forget the cool chorus.

Two albums in one year that’s the statistics for Dirty Looks. That is a major effort by the foursome and they have done a good job with this release. It’s positively sure that the Metal world will see more albums from them in 2009, but who knows maybe they will release three this time.


  • Lior Stein

    Lior was a reviewer, DJ and host for our Thrash Metal segment called Terror Zone, based out of Haifa, Israel. He attributes his love of Metal to his father, who got him into bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, Boston, and Queen. When he was in junior high he got his first Iron Maiden CD, The Number Of The Beast. That's how he started his own collection of albums. Also, he's the guitarist, vocalist and founder of the Thrash Metal band Switchblade. Most of his musical influences come from Metal Church, Vicious Rumors, Overkill, and Annihilator.

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